Kurds: We have right to fight anywhere in Syria

 A top Kurdish official vowed that “if it proves necessary we will even head for Damascus.”

Kurdish YPG fighter. (AFP/Delil Souleiman)

BEIRUT – A top Syrian Kurdish official has stressed the right of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) to fight anywhere in Syria amid allegations that the fighting force was ethnically cleansing Arabs.

“Wherever the Syrian people can be found, the YPG will be; it has the right to be in Aleppo, Damascus, Deir Ezzor, Raqqa, and on all of Syria’s geography,” Ilham Ahmed, a member of the Executive Council of the Democratic Society Movement (TEV-DEM) in Kurdish-populated Syria, said.

“We have been able to protect west Kurdistan and northern Syria, so if it proves necessary we will even head for Damascus,” she said in a Monday press conference covered by Bas News.

Ahmed’s TEV-DEM, which is affiliated to the Kurdish PKK organization active in Turkey, serves as the umbrella organization governing the de facto autonomous Kurdish areas of Syria and the security services currently pressing a successful military campaign against ISIS.

In recent weeks, the opposition Syrian National Coalition and the Turkish government have accused the Kurdish YPG of forcibly displacing ethnic Arabs and Turkmen from the Tal Abyad area near Syria’s border with Turkey.

The YPG, which seized the ISIS-stronghold in mid-July, strenuously denied the allegations, while the Turkmen National Assembly close to Ankara has moved to form a Turkmen Army capable of confronting Kurdish forces in northern Syria.

Ahmed also confirmed that YPG troops would join fighting in ISIS’ de facto capital Raqqa, after reaching agreement with Syrian rebel fighters.

“Yes, and that is with the agreement of the moderate and national armed opposition—certain FSA factions,” Ahmed said in response to a question on Kurdish involvement in a Raqqa campaign.

“YPG forces are not restricted to Rojava alone,” she added. “Even their name is not exclusively Kurdish.”


No Kurdish state, but autonomy for all Kurds

The TEV-DEM official reiterated that the Kurds were not seeking an independent state, and instead were pursuing a policy of autonomy “in consensus” with all Syrians.

“Establishing a Kurdish state is not in our strategy,” Ahmed said, explaining that “our project is democratic self-administration.”

She added that the Kurds’ democratic self-administration project was not specific to the already de facto autonomous Kurdish regions in northern Syria.

“If it proves necessary, we will announce it in all Syrian areas, and wherever there are Kurds,” Ahmed said, without elaborating further on the ambitious goal.

“This is also our vision for Syria’s future, through consensus with all of Syria’s [social] components.”

In January 2014, Kurdish authorities declared the formation of three self-ruled cantons (Cezire, Afrin and Kobane) under the Democratic Self-Rule Administration of Rojava, which has been dominated by the Democratic Union party (PYD) and its YPG militia forces.

The political reorganization was not recognized by the Syrian regime; however, it has become a de-facto reality, especially since pro-government forces withdrew from most Kurdish-populated regions in 2012, with the exception of Qamishli and the provincial capital Hasakeh 75 kilometers to the south.

Syria’s Kurds have been militarily ascendant in the past few months, rolling back ISIS in the Hasakeh province as well as in the Kobane region.

If they can let them take it all-ed